Utah resorts surpass 4 million mark in skier days
For the third consecutive year in a row, Ski Utah reports Utah’s ski resorts broke a record for the total number of skier days in a season.
Tuesday morning, Ski Utah President Nathan Rafferty announced Utah’s 13 resorts surpassed the 4 million-skier day mark with a total of 4,045,030 skier days, a unit of measurement defined by the National Ski Area Association as one person visiting a ski area for all or any part of a day or night for the purpose of skiing or snowboarding.
The skier days this season out-paced last season by 3.8 percent. Over the last three seasons, Utah resorts have experienced a 29-percent jump, according to Ski Utah’s figures.
It was an early skier day proclamation compared to previous years, but the organization was too excited about the news to wait, Rafferty admitted.
"This is the first time in Utah’s 67-year ski history that we broke the 4 million [skier day] barrier," he explained.
"I don’t know that anyone expected such a leap, but it’s not altogether surprising. We have the best product in the world and there’s really a groundswell for Utah Skiing and snowboarding. It’s a hot commodity right now and I think that part of it has to do with the Olympics."
What impressed Rafferty about this year’s skier day total was that unlike last year, Utah did not have an unfair snow advantage — ski resorts throughout the country experienced an abundance of snowfall in 2005 and 2006.
During the 2004/2005 ski season, while other resorts, particularly in the Northeast, experienced snow drought, Utah enjoyed more than 600 inches of snowfall, and Ski Utah reported Utah’s luck was a factor in the season’s success. This year, Utah’s snow depth matched last year’s, however, it did not account for the record-breaking number of skiers that visited, Utah according to Rafferty.
"We had a great snow year, but so did everybody else," he says. "It’s just really encouraging to see our numbers stand all by themselves&We’re having a record year even though all these states around us are having record years."
A factor that did contribute to Utah’s most successful season to date was Utah’s renewed efforts to attract visitors, he said.
"A huge benefit to Ski Utah this year and going into next year is help from the Utah Office of Tourism and the Utah State Legislature — they’ve recognized tourism in the state of Utah as a viable economic engine," he explained. "They have some great ad campaigns and we’ll see some fantastic winter ads coming out."
The Canyons Resort Vice President of Marketing Todd Burnette says, given the season the Canyons experienced in 2005/2006, he expected a banner year for Utah.
"The Canyons had a fantastic year and so, assuming that other resorts in Utah were growing as well, it didn’t surprise me that those numbers added up to that 4 million," he said.
Burnette concurred with Rafferty that the main draw to the state was that Utah’s message traveled.
"Utah is continuing to get the word out about the ease of accessibility and the fact that people can fly in and ski the same day they fly it’s an incredible and hard for other resorts to match," he explained. "I just think people have discovered the place."
For the 2004/2005 ski season, Ski Utah recorded a total of 3,895,578 skier days, which amounted to a 12 percent increase from the previous season. The total of Park City’s three resorts’ skier days nearly matched the increase with an 11.8-percent jump for that season at 1,608,332 skier days.
Rafferty says this week’s announcement of skier days is not the final tally for Utah. Utah’s official ski season continues at least through Memorial Day, May 29 at Snowbird Ski & Summer Resort. Ski Utah says skiers and riders at the resort are currently enjoying a 114-inch base at mid-mountain, which could add as much as 5,000 skier days to the grand total for this season.
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